Imperial Treasure is a rare creature. It’s one of only a handful of London restaurants serving refined Cantonese cooking. That’s not to say we don’t have brilliant high-end Chinese restaurants – oh, we do – but many of them draw from regions with punchier ingredients like Sichuan and Hunan (and of course Taiwan, whose food has influenced enough ‘Chinese’ restaurants to warrant a mention). True Cantonese cooking is subtle and nuanced, its emphasis as much on texture as taste.
This place has blowout pricing, but is also a slick operator destined for Michelin stars (its overseas branches are already starry spots). The smart way to eat here, therefore, is to come with a group of like-minded food pilgrims. Portion sizes are decent, so you can share the fiscal pain. But do show some culinary savvy. You may be drawn to the takeaway fave of crispy Peking duck with pancakes, but it’s the £25 Cantonese-style barbecue version – the kind hanging in Chinatown windows – you should order. Firstly, it’s sensational. But it’s also enough for two, to which you can add a £5 bowl of white rice. Get the wok-fried ho fun too: £28 gets you a tangle of smoky, slippery, wide ribbons, with needle-thin slivers of ginger, fresh beansprouts and impossibly tender slices of high-quality Angus beef. The seafood is stunning, but costly: a plate of fresh, juicy stir-fried prawns with dried chillies was £28.
It’s a grand, high-ceilinged room, carved into intimate areas, with music that’s pleasant and jazzy, and staff who are slick but also warm and welcoming. One for a special occasion.